Guest post by Steven Goddard
Click for a larger map – ice extent overlay provided by Catlin KML file, annotated map by Anthony Watts from data provided by the Catlin Arctic Survey
According to the people who rescued Pen Hadow from his earlier polar near-misadventure in 2003, the latest safe date for recovering people from the North Pole is April 30. The team is currently 683 km away from the pole, which means that they would need to cover 32km per day – an increase of 5X over their average rate so far. That might prove difficult with an exhausted, hypothermic, frostbitten team walking over broken ice and dragging heavy equipment at -34C.
May 28, 2003
Steve Penikett, of Kenn Borek Air, based in Calgary, which completed the mission, said: “I wish it hadn’t taken place at this time of the year. This is the latest we have ever done a pick-up. Landing on the North Pole at this time of the year is not the brightest thing people can do because of the weather and ice conditions.
“People are at risk – the ice breaks and it shouldn’t really happen. No one should expect to be picked up from there later than 30 April … Going to the Pole this time of the year is a bit stupid and you put a lot of people’s lives at risk. If you are going to put yourself into a spot like this … it really does need to be thought through.”
h/t to Pkatt for finding this information. More from Anthony and The Times:
May 26, 2003
Polar Pen waits for new airlift as temperature falls
THE temperature at the North Pole has plummeted to minus 25C as the explorer Pen Hadow ekes out his meagre food rations waiting for clouds to clear so he can be airlifted back to civilisation.
After one attempt to pick him up failed, a new plan has been hatched to improve the chances of a successful recovery by aircraft in worsening Arctic weather conditions. Visibility has diminished so far at Hadow’s base camp at Eureka in Canada that pilots could not take off to fly to the pole even if it were safe to land.
As of today, the Catlin web site is showing
|Total distance travelled||241.13||km|
|Average daily distance||5.88||km|
|Estimated distance to North Pole||683.39||km|
|Time on ICE||41||days|
This is interesting because they also say :
As we approach the half way point of the expedition, the Ice Team are currently just 10 miles below the 85°N line of latitude. During the time Pen, Ann and Martin have been on expedition, the ice has been particularly dynamic, with refrozen leads and huge pressure ridges experienced on a daily basis. The team have managed to navigate their way around open water, and so far have not had to don their immersion suits and swim.
In this next stage of the expedition, we are starting to see the temperature rise from its recent -35C to -45C, thereby allowing the team to focus on something other than sheer survival. However, from satellite pictures we receive in the Ops Room, we can see that once the team cross the 85th degree of latitude, the condition of the ice deteriorates rapidly. Large fissures of open water running east to west for several hundred miles currently scar the ice imagery. So, whilst on the one hand the weather conditions should start to improve, on the other hand the team will now face the new challenge of navigating stretches of open water. So, it is with immersion suits and flotation devices ready that the next phase of the expedition begins.
They are only a little more than 1/4th of the way to the North Pole. Does this imply that they are not planning on completing their North Pole trek?